Sunshine after the rain!

“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”

Farm News

What a difference a week can make at this time of the year.  

We appear now to have plenty of grass on the majority of fields; most showing that the re-seeding has actually worked. Of course, some are yet to catch up, and some will need at least partial topping, but overall, it was a sight for sore eyes.  

What, on our weekly trip around the farm, we did not see, were butterflies, or hear skylarks. Less positively the current rook population is horrendous. Overall, I was left feeling very happy, not just about the fields but also the wild areas, the hedges and the trees.  

Alice, who regularly takes walks early in the day, and at dusk, continues to see interesting birds, as well as the more obvious such as swallows and swifts. She is especially good at spotting raptors, including one I have never seen, the ‘hobby’. The day she told us about seeing a red kite I expressed disbelief, only to see one myself, just minutes later – not a welcome sight. Additionally, three herons in a group have been seen, and with the river low it possible to see that there are plenty of small fish in it. Moreover, it is along the stream that the dragon and damsel flies are to be found.   

At the right times of the day, there is no mistaking the small raptors, such as the kestrel and sparrow hawk, while the tawny owls hunt along the river banks every night.  

The sheep look good, though one lamb has an abscess which still requires draining. They, like the cattle, have been moved during the week. The cattle, aside from signs of ‘New Forest eye’, and the animal suffering from a large throat abscess, also look good, and at least three are ready for market.  

The orphan calf flourishes, now drinking over five litres of milk a day, and so far, shows no sign of imagining itself to be a sheep. Two new calves were safely delivered without human intervention during the week, and they also look well.  

Chris has sourced locally organic hay, and with that remaining from last year, fodder for the coming winter hopefully will be no problem, especially if we do not have to cut too many of our own fields.  

I realise I have not mentioned the weather directly, but that is simply because I suspect all of us have enjoyed some sunshine, some showers, and the odd chilly night. Though there remains water in the scrape, the water level in the stream really is too low for this time of year.   

A busy day

Thursday was a difficult day to manage. Celebrations, or the first day of the Test Match – what a choice! The other option was to watch what seemed like an endless stream of hot air balloons either in the morning or in the evening. Four ended up by landing on the farm. However, it was very interesting to watch the way in which uplift varied so significantly across the area, even though there was no wind. It was not just the cattle who found the whole business disturbing, but the birds in the rookery across the brook all chose to rise from their roosts and circle until the stream of balloons eventually ended.  

With the barn empty except for the IR’s – and of course the sixty days must be nearly over – it was possible to get the broken hinge on one of the main gates sorted and a welder found to do the job.  

Light reading, cricket & stamps

As I wrote last week, I am, for a week or so, ‘ducking out’ from addressing heavy issues, and merely indulging, in so far as my back allows, in light reading, watching cricket and sorting out my collection of 1870 French siege stamps. Sadly, I have listened to little music as my amplifier requires attention from the manufacturers, and some music just does not work through headphones. Record reviews this week related to music by Britain, a composer I have little love for.  

I am very much enjoying reading ‘The Struggle for Mastery’ covering the history of Britain in the years 1066 to 1284. This is a book in the Penguin series, and its author David Carpenter throws a different light on to this period from the Oxford comparable series of the 50’s and 60’s. Fear not, no ‘compare and contrast’ is to follow!  

I was however interested to read how the attitude of the church towards slavery changed from that period to the position in the 17th century. In passing, it was also fascinating to read that the trouble between England and its two neighbouring nations in the twelfth century arose out of their raids into England for slaves to sell to Ireland and death to all those unsaleable.  

Another fact often concealed is that because of social need, in 1601 the Elizabethan poor laws came into effect, but that in 1834 these were replaced by something far, far worse arising from the notion that the poor were so by choice! A view which persisted until the 1870’s as I have previously written. Many of you, will know, like some in my extended family, some ancestors will have experienced the horrors of the post 1834 ‘workhouse’. 

On Thursday “In our time” was taken up with considering Shakespeare’s sonnets. I refer to it simply because for several years poor Anne had to cope with my uxorious sonnets at appropriate times in the year. I chose the sonnet form because it appealed to my sense of order, and in English unlike, some other European languages, finding rhymes is not over challenging. I make no claims for my efforts other than saying they were technically accurate and were from the heart. They certainly will never be seen in print. But I enjoyed writing them but thereafter the urge to abandon prose never returned.  

A sonnet of the 19th century by Henry Alford, a poet quite unknown to me, was chosen because I felt I could not use the poem by Mary Stuart, though it might have seemed more appropriate as a tribute to a Queen since I could not shake off the memory of her fate.  

To the River Wye’ by Henry Alford

If, gentle stream, by promised sacrifice  
Of kid or yearling, or by scattered flowers  
Of votive roses culled from thy thick bowers,  
Or golden cistus we could thee entice  
To be propitious to our love, no price  
Should save these errant flocks: each nook but ours  
Should shed its eglantine in twinkling showers,  
For tribute from thy wooded paradise.  
But not thy flocks, nor brier-roses hung  
In natural garlands down thy rocky hills,  
Shall win thee to be ours; more precious far  
Than summer blossoms or rich offerings are,  
We bring thee sweet poetic descants, sung  
To the wild music of thy tinkling rills. 

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